Friday, January 20, 2012

Sexually Offensive (2 Peter 3:14)

So beloved, while waiting for this (the second coming), make every effort to be found at peace and without stain or defilement in God’s sight.
                                                                                           2 Peter 3:14

The first half of this verse is very comforting. I am used to waiting. The concern for Christ’s second coming in this letter is a concern for the fulfillment of all the community is hoping for. My personal hopes will be fulfilled once justice has swung its long arm to include those who fall under the umbrella of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer identities. My hope will be fulfilled when our struggle for equality may be seen as a quaint footnote to history.

So I know about waiting, longing, working for the inclusive community. How my heart burns for the time when broadmindedness is the norm and harmony characterizes our relationships with our family, friends, and neighbors. Yes, the first half of the verse brings me comfort. It finds me where I’m at and speaks to my situation.

The second half of the verse is a bit more difficult. It does not comfort, but rather inflicts. The long arguments between the opening salutation of 2 Peter and its closing exhortations are not friendly to queers. For sure sexual expression itself is not the content. Rather it is how those who disagree with the author of this book are portrayed as sexually offensive people (2:4-10). In short this letter understands sexual wrong doing as proof of wrong thinking.

This has been a tortured argument through the ages that is still with us. In a nutshell the argument declares that a sexual proclivity in one area of life corrupts all other areas of life. The basis of the present argument against allowing same-gender marriages is that sexual “perversion” in one form of marriage will corrupt (i.e. lead to wrong thinking) in all marriages.

It is hard for me to appropriate any guidance the second portion of the verse may give. I can only hear that portion as part of an old and worn out debate tactic – “paint your opponents as sexual perverts.” However, if I can understand the invitation to "remain without stain and defilement" as resisting the temptation to use the same tactic on my opponents, then indeed, I will be found in peace by the God I seek to serve.

In the end, I return to the first half of the verse while waiting for the sexual perversion argument to be unmasked for the shallow and base attack that it is. Yet my waiting is not passive. I wait with an acerbic grin on my face knowing that the line of argument in this text of the bible will someday be unmasked by the very Christ it seeks to glorify.

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